How to Select the Right Truck Driver School near Queen Creek Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Queen Creek AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Queen Creek home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Queen Creek AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Queen Creek AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Queen Creek AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Queen Creek AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Queen Creek AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Queen Creek AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Queen Creek AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Queen Creek AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Queen Creek AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Queen Creek AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Queen Creek AZ CDL Driver Training
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Queen Creek AZ.